Despite founding the series in 1994, X-Com mastermind Julian Gollop has admitted his current project Phoenix Point wouldn't exist if it weren't for Firaxis' 2012 Enemy Unknown reboot .
In 1994, Julian Gollop, alongside his Mythos Games team, redefined the turn-based strategy genre with the creation of UFO: Enemy Unknown—otherwise known as X-COM UFO Defense. A direct sequel—X-COM: Terror from the Deep—followed, before the series changed scope and jumped genres with Gollop and his team no longer on board.
Two cancelled games in the early '00s effectively buried the series, before it was revived and rebooted by Firaxis in 2012. XCOM has since went from strength to strength, with Gollop's original creation becoming its own sub-genre.
"I think it's fantastic," Gollops tells PC Gamer. "When you think that for so long I was trying to make this kind of game and no publisher was even interested, what it proves that there's now an audience for this style of game. It may not be absolutely massive, but it's a pretty solid, dedicated audience.
"People have been asking me to remake X-Com, or Laser Squad, or anything forever. They've always asked me to do it. It's just getting commercial interest from a publisher to actually do it has been very difficult."
Gollop suggests MOBAs have in many ways overshadowed RTS games in recent years, but he admires how Firaxis has "managed to resurrect" X-Com, in turn finding critical and commercial success. Despite being responsible for the foundations of the X-Com as we know it today, Gollop reckons its current guise champions a new genre—one that his latest venture Phoenix Point is happily part of.
"It just goes to show that maybe I was right to pursue this kind of game," Gollop continues. "But what the new XCOM game has allowed me to do is make Phoenix Point, because without it, I doubt I even would've attempted it. God knows what I'd be doing. I think it's fair to say it's now a new genre of game. It's now established, and there are people who are actively looking for this style of game, and there will be more like them, which is really cool. It's brilliant. From my point of view, it's great.
"When you think about it, all the X-Com games, going back to the ones I worked on, the strategic layer is the thing that's changed the most. So the original was set on a globe, Terror From The Deep sort of copied that, but X-Com Apocalypse was radically different. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is reminiscent of the original but is actually quite different, because it's a much more scripted sequence of stuff. It's more like a min/maxing management sim. With XCOM 2, they changed it quite radically again. So this seems to be the area of the X-Com genre-style game that's changing the most."
Gollops continues, suggesting Phoenix Point—said to be a spiritual successor of the '94 X-Com—will do something different again, while retaining "this core tactical turn-based gameplay which is more familiar across all the X-Com games."
Look out for our full interview with Julian Gollop—wherein he discusses Phoenix Point, X-Com and more—later today.